When Eustace Bowler bought a very large old house (freehold) called Caterham House earlier this year, the entry on the Land Register made reference to a schedule of covenants which contained the following:
the premises may only be used as a dwelling for one family;
no trade or industry may be carried out on the land;
no trees may be cut down;
all walls must be constructed in sandstone bricks;
the owner must contribute towards the maintenance of Caterham Drive in proportion to the house’s frontage on to that road.
Caterham Drive is a private road giving access to the public road. The covenants were imposed in 1905 for the benefit of Gertrude Mendelson who then lived at Surrey House next door. Since 1905, Caterham House has been sold four times and Surrey House has passed down three generations of the Porter family. Lord Porter is the current owner of Surrey House.
Eustace hopes to convert Caterham House into four flats. He plans to live in one and sell the others. In order to achieve this, he is proposing to build a ground floor extension to provide a bathroom for the ground floor flat. This will necessitate chopping down a large oak tree which has always blocked the light to the house. Eustace plans to use sand-coloured bricks which are more readily available, cheaper and more durable than real sandstone bricks.
Eustace is a potter and plans to build a studio with a kiln in the garden of Caterham House. Lord Porter disapproves of the plans and has now, for the first time to Eustace’s knowledge, demanded a contribution of ?1000 towards surfacing Caterham Drive. Eustace seeks advice as to whether
the proposed work will be affected by the covenants in the Land Register;
his liability for the road costs; and
possible courses of action he could take.
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